If you’re participating in the #JanuaryWhole30: congratulations! You’re over halfway done. We hope you sail through these last two weeks of your reset. Now that you’ve been Whole30-ing for a couple of weeks, you’ve probably noticed how much time you’re spending in the kitchen and are looking for ways to reduce those hours… especially if you’re chasing kids around the house.

Here are three tips for helping you get lunch on the table quickly and with minimal meltdowns—from you, your toddler, your partner, or anyone else who is liable to meltdown.

Method #1: Behold the Cold Lunch.

Quick Lunches 1a Here’s a little bit of love for “the cold lunch” from Whole30 Headmistress and Whole30 HMHB co-founder, Melissa Hartwig:

“Would it be awesome if you cooked all your own food from scratch and didn’t need convenience foods at all? Yes. That would be, like, unicorn level awesome. But that’s probably not real life. Not mine, at least. Maybe you have it way more together than me. I keep #Whole30-friendly convenience foods on hand at all times. Because I COULD have had popcorn and wine for lunch, but instead I had a delicious Whole30 meal with protein, veggies, and healthy fat that was TOTALLY GOOD ENOUGH under the circumstances. And that, my richly-scheduled-juggling-work/family/friends/sleeping/eating/exercise/occasionally-stopping-to-pee friends, is HASHTAG WINNING.”

Here’s how to compose a yummy cold lunch of your own. Stock your frig and pantry with yummy, compliant items that can be eaten straight from the frig. Toss these items together on a plate or even in a salad. Add some flavor with your favorite Whole30 compliant sauce, dip or dressing. Some items we keep handy are:

  • Protein: hard boiled eggs; compliant lunch meat; compliant chicken sausage or hot dogs; Safe Catch tuna or other compliant canned tuna or chicken; prosciutto; pre-roasted chicken breasts; compliant rotisserie chicken.
  • Veggies: your favorite pre-washed salad greens; baby carrots, peppers, or cucumbers; snap peas; compliant pickles, sauerkraut or other fermented foods; jicima sticks; radishes. It helps to chop veggies up at the beginning of the week and then you can just grab what you feel like eating on any given day.
  • Fats: mini containers of guacamole; olives; dried coconut strips; Whole30 compliant nuts.
  • Dips and Sauces: The sky is the limit here, but some favorites are Tessemae’s Whole30 compliant dressings and condiments (Melissa particularly loves their hot sauce) and Primal Kitchen original mayo and chipotle-lime mayo. We also recommend making a big batch of your favorite Whole30 sauce or dip to keep in the frig all week long. See this post for ideas.

Tip: Toddlers tend to do well with the ability to choose from a variety of finger foods. Bonus points if you arrange them into a smiley face or other fun design on his or her plate.

Method #2: Guard your leftovers with your life.

Leftovers from dinner the night before are probably the easiest option for a Whole30 compliant lunch, so get in the habit of making enough food at dinner so you’ll have leftovers for lunch the next day. If you’re the only one Whole30-ing in your household, we think you should feel free to be as territorial about your leftovers as you need to be. We’ve been known to write post-it notes to our partners clearly labeling which items in the frig they are allowed to eat and which they are not.

For mamas who work outside of the home, a great method is to pack a lunch-sized portion of leftovers in its’ own container as you clean up the kitchen after dinner. That way, when the morning comes and you’re running out the door to work, you can just grab it and go.

Tip: This method works for school/daycare lunches as well! Some of the usual morning mayhem can be avoided by packing lunches and labeling them for each person the night before.

Method #3: Pick a meal you love and “Groundhog Day” it.

Batch Cooking

You’ve seen the movie Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray has to live the same day over and over again, right? This is what we mean by “Groundhog Day”-ing a meal. Make a big batch of something at the beginning of the week and then eat it for lunch every day. Here’s an idea from Melissa:

“You know what’s in my fridge at all times? Frittata. Literally, always. So easy to vary, delicious hot or cold, totally portable for plane rides or between-appointment car eating (not that I encourage that, but sometimes life happens)…Turn frittata prep into no-hassle by roasting a ton of veggies all at once (two huge trays in my oven), then using some (plus whatever leftover protein you have on hand) for the frittata and the rest for other meals.”

A few recipes that work great for batch cooking and eating for days:

Want to stock your pantry with foods that support pregnancy health?
Check out our Barefoot Provisions Essential Kits, designed by Melissa Stephanie with HMHB mamas in mind.

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